Wellness Wed: Motorcycle, open road and 2 fresh-air junkies

As Minnesotans prepare for the State Fair start on Thursday, we reach a symbolic end of summer. I spent some time reading blogs from 2017, and enjoying the past 2 years of my writing journey. So I edited a favorite post from December 2017 for Wellness Wednesday. If you’re reading this – head outside! Enjoy your summer! Stop reading! 🙂

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In July of 2017 my husband (then fiance) and I took a trip around Lake Superior, starting on the Minnesota side from the Twin Cities and running clockwise. It was a wonderful journey, made precious by the fact that we had never made that trip before, and the fact that my husband had taken care of 95% of the planning beforehand.

cycle-with-camper-in-schroeder.jpg
Camping trailer, VTX, and our bear canister.

He even re-furbished a motorcycle camping trailer that we were able to use for 6 out of the 10 nights we were away from home. It would have been 8 nights but we opted to upgrade to a hotel on two of the nights when the campgrounds seemed to soggy for us as 40-somethings who enjoy comfortable beds. With hubby doing 100% of the driving, it was important for him to get adequate rest. See how good I am at justifying my desire for comfort? 😉

We wanted to explore one of the wonderful treasures of our Midwest home: Lake Superior. We love Canada and have traveled many times to Thunder Bay and that area. The first time we traveled there was just after we had gotten engaged, and we stayed in the McVicar Manor B&B. I am sad to see when I look online that this may have closed. I know Dorothy and Tom, the owners at the time, were planning to retire.

McVicar Manor
McVicar Manor B&B

Perhaps it is a seasonal closing, as I know they do spend some months of the year traveling.

In any case, hubby found many great camp sites where we could stay all around the lake, as well as a B&B in Sault Ste Marie and some other hotels where we spontaneously stayed when we encountered rain a couple of days in July.

At the start we arrived in Canada during their national holiday, just before the U.S. Independence Day holiday. It was Canada Day, eh! And we found an abundance of people camping, with Canadian flags on display at campsites. The provincial park system in Canada is amazing, and has generally more secluded sites than the typical American camp groud.

My favorites were Sleeping Giant Park and Lake Superior Provincial Park. Hubby took this wonderful photo from Agawa Bay in Superior Park, where we camped right along the shoreline. It was gorgeous, and quite warm that evening. But we started a camp fire anyway, because it is our tradition.

Agawa Bay - Superior
Original photo taken by husband of mexi-minnesotana in 2017. Use with attribution only.

The views from the Canada side were rather spectacular and hubby has hours of unedited video from his Go-Pro which attached like an antenna to his helmet. I kept teasing him about looking like a Martian with that darn thing stuck to the helmet.

Awww, but this is why I keep reading that spending money on experiences rather than things proves to be the most satisfying. There is the excitement and anticipation of the event, then the event itself and then recalling fond memories of the event.

Where are you planning your next vacation? 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

O Canada
O Canada! Another view from a similar vantage point, taken by mexi-minnesotana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

El silencio es oro

Speech is silver; silence is golden, goes the saying. Though the second half is the more remembered according to the Literary Devices site.

Tonight my husband was thirsting for some silence, and I was sitting in the dining room on my laptop, oblivious to this fact. He had his phone in hand, and was sort of half-listening to me (or at least that was what I perceived).

When he does this while I am trying to actually connect with him, it drives me crazy. But because I was kind of wound up from a busy day, and thoughts of needing to “fit everything in” before I return to a full time work schedule, I was multi-tasking. I was talking off and on, not very aware of how much I was blathering on, while trying to get 3 other things done on my computer.

Even for those of us with variable attention, who juggle many tasks fairly well (more than the average person), there is a limit. Going beyond the limit does not typically end well.

silence is golden

In our case, it touched off a sensitive subject for me. He pointed out that I was talking a lot (it had been a hard day for him) and it was too much for him. I didn’t respond well at first. It triggered a “shame storm” of my own memories of being silenced in other settings: in my family, in various workplaces and at other times.

So I did my best to respond mindfully and I asked him to tell me more. I had gotten a little teary and “raw” at the story that I was making up: that he doesn’t care what I have to say. In reality, he only wanted what I’ve been giving myself every morning: quiet time upon arriving home, to wind down and transition into the evening. (In my case, it is quiet time in the morning to transition to into my activities).

I realized I had been glued to my computer for the afternoon, in full-on “work mode” even after he arrived home. I had not done my usual “shut down ritual” for the day, creating space between work brain and home brain, and taking my work stuff out of the dining room (adjacent to the living room).

His request was reasonable. I asked him: “when I do talk mindlessly or forget that you need some quiet wind-down time, what are ways you can remind me of this in a non-shaming way?”

We decided on something humorous. A former co-worker of mine used to stand at my cube on Friday afternoons and chat with me while I was trying to wrap up the week and leave. This used to drive me crazy, because I did not know how to politely ask her to leave me alone so I could finish and go home.

Hubby is going to call me by that name when I’m not sensing that he needs quiet. I shall refrain from naming the person. I am pretty sure they did not do this on purpose, and may just have been lonely.

From pursue your path
stolen from my webpage of my coach

The irony of all of this is that one of the values my coach, Elizabeth Dickinson, had helped me uncover was that of “personal space.” What that means to me: plenty of time for solitude, quiet and “deep work” time, along with time and space to listen to my podcasts and shift my energy as necessary to a just right stimulus. It is harder to achieve that in cubicle-land when we do not have an office with a door.

Soon I will return to a setting where I will have a cube again, and have been trying to consider how to access personal space. I am hoping that in an academic environment at a University, some closed-door time and deep work will be honored, even for staff who are not professors. Maybe in a conference room? But I am not sure. If any of my readers have advice and/or thoughts on this topic, I welcome your feedback. Clearly there will be a part 2 to this reflection, as I have just scratched the surface on this topic.

Is silence or solitude golden to you? How do you carve out those spaces in your workplace if you do not have an office? 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

Mother Lake musings

This week I have the privilege of enjoying some time near Lake Superior. My friend is attending a conference and I will be caring for her two kitties (one of which is pictured below) while she is away.

Olive at e window
Olive at the window 

It was lovely to have some time to catch up with her for a day and a half or so before she leaves. It struck me how similar our career pivots have been in recent years. She is about 5 years ahead me. And while she left a tenured professor position at a University and I left a corporate position, I can tell we have some “threads” in common.

For one, we are finding that recruiters and hiring managers do not always “get” what to do with our experience. As knowledge workers, we often specialize in a particular area for a period of time, say 10-15 years. But then some of us get an “itch” to extend our skills, to stretch outside our comfort zones, or maybe to find work that speaks to our souls. Perhaps we found ourselves living someone else’s idea of success. At the time, it made sense to take that road, to fully immerse ourselves in an area of expertise. And then suddenly (or gradually) we grow out of it.

Many people think we are crazy. “Why the hell would you leave a secure job as a professor (or a clinical research operations manager, in my case)?”

Why indeed?

Deep blue Lake Superior
I just love the deep blue of Lake Superior. This photo was taken near Silver Creek Cliff, looking eastward. Copyright 2019 mexi-minnesotana

Futurists often tell us that the work place is changing. We should expect to make major career moves every 5-10 years. It keeps us nimble, fresh and innovative. But the reality is that structurally, recruitment and sourcing professionals are not hiring this way. It is still about “ticking the boxes” and following a formulaic approach to look for talent, sadly.

My own timeline is such that I will likely head back to full time work soon, probably within the next month or two. I was feeling sad about this a few weeks ago, wondering if I had failed at this attempt at self-employment because I had not planned well enough. I had not narrowed down my niche properly perhaps, or I may thrive under conditions where I have a bit more structure than this wide open landscape.

However it is not failure if we learn from our experiences. And this time I will go back to the drawing board understanding myself better. I know more about the support I need to be productive. I have piloted and tested some ideas and workshop offerings. I have enrolled in yoga teacher training. I am moving forward.

Even if I do need to regroup and re-capitalize a bit, the dream endures. This retreat is an opportunity to go inward to get clear about my deepest longings. I am so grateful for the time and space for this process.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

 

My guilty pleasure – Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

I have a confession: last night I skipped a networking event so I could “treat” myself to an episode of the new show by Netflix, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. It was my second episode. I watched the first one on Monday night to reward myself for a lot of work accomplished that day.

Marie Kondo has the most joyful and optimistic spirit. I love her way of greeting the house in the beginning and taking a moment to thank the home for the protection it has provided to the family. She also asks for cooperation with the project ahead. Truly, her way of approaching it makes the process of clearing seem sacred, rather than a chore.

One thing that bothers me about these projects is that the women always seem to feel excessive amounts of guilt over the mess. The men very seldom feel guilt, though they often seem to feel frustrated with the women over not being able to keep things clean.

marie kondo
Photo credit link

My mixed reaction is probably due to my feminist complaint regarding women as the presumed keepers of the home, along with my desire to have vastly less STUFF. I love that feeling of open space that comes with removing clutter. And of course I also love my bookshelves full of precious gems.

It does seem that the couples who start with skepticism eventually get to a place of actually enjoying the process of de-cluttering. By the end of the first two episodes, there were drastic transformations, and also very happy couples much more content with their relationships as well as their space. They appear joyous and radiant after the transformation.

This is re-igniting my desire to continue with my own de-clutter process. Now that I work from home for much of the week, when I am not careful my things can pile up quickly. Putting it all away at the end of the day so I can relax is an important discipline I tried to start about a year ago. Perhaps now it is even more relevant to my quality of life since there is less of a boundary between work and home life.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

 

Fridays in Fall

It was a beautiful day yesterday so I went for an extra walk. ‘Til the season in Minnesota when we can have snow or rain or lovely weather some days. When the opportunity strikes, it is always nice to get out there and enjoy the fresh air and bathe in the beautiful Fall colors.

Happy Friday! Enjoy your weekend and get outdoors weather-permitting.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

brilliant-fall-red-e1539896689748.jpg
View from a street in St. Paul near Tula Yoga & Wellness

Daily rituals

Today I will return to work after the holiday break. I also have an appointment this afternoon for post-op check-up following my appendectomy surgery a few weeks ago. Though I usually wake up around 5:30, this morning I was awake at 4, so I opted to roll out of bed at 4:30 to start my coffee pot.

It is again a chilly morning at zero degrees F with a windchill of -15F.  I plan to go to the gym in a bit for some exercise. I am not yet “cleared” to get back to yoga so I will go again for a walk on the treadmill.

This past weekend I went a little stir-crazy after no exercise for a few weeks, so I just had to work up a small sweat by walking on the ‘mill a couple of days. Typically I do yoga 3-4 times a week, and I like to run at least a couple of times a week. I have not run since my last trip to Mexico early in December, when I managed a few short treadmill workouts.

I exercise for my mental health as much as my physical health. As someone with an attention issue, it is a highly recommended natural intervention for this condition. It also helps prevent depression and anxiety, which I have contended with in the past. It has been at least 7 years since I had a true “episode” of depression as categorized by the DSM-5. It was minor, fortunately, and responded well to a few sessions of counseling, and addition of healthy fats and protein to my diet.

A few years ago, when I was racing many half marathons per year (and even one marathon) I felt such a sense of relief from previous depressive symptoms. I think this was for many reasons but here are the top ones:

1) Exercise is good for the brain and this is documented in the research.

2) The running community and the friends I met were so positive, supportive and uplifting (this is actually how I met my husband).

3) A regular routine and training goals for races kept me in touch with friends, getting outside in the fresh air and sunshine regularly. Nature is such a beautiful balm for all that ails us.

2018-calendar.jpgAs I consider goals for 2018, I know that there are some daily rituals I will keep, that serve me well and contribute to my health and well-being. Getting good sleep (and patience as I gain mastery over insomnia) is a non-negotiable one. I will aim for 8 hours regularly, because I feel better with adequate rest. It helps maintain my weight, gives me more consistent focus during the day, and adds better decision-making. If you have one thing you do for the next year to commit to your health and you get routinely less than 7 hours a night – try to get 30-60 minutes more sleep each night. Your body and brain will thank you. Trust me.

My other daily habits are: meditating (I’m on day 333), journaling in a hand-written journal in addition to this blog, and doing some yoga or walking/running. I also typically end my workday with taking 15 minutes to plan the next day or two, review what is on my schedule and prepare myself mentally for what is head.

I enjoy my coffee in the morning, so even though it is half caf these days, that one is not going to change. I avoid caffeine in the afternoon since it does tend to mess with my sleep when I am not careful.

Calvin on lap
Calvin napping as I write my blog

Sitting with a cat on my lap and reading at home is another wonderful ritual that makes me feel especially happy in winter. Having time with my husband to chat and catch up on the day is another ritual that keeps me connected. On the weekends I typically make breakfast for us, since he leaves so early for work on weekdays. I enjoy that also.

As I consider whether I should add anything, I believe I want to continue the work on the de-cluttering project I began last Spring. This has gone in fits and starts for me, usually when I get too annoyed by not being able to find things that I go all “KonMari” for a few days, in a frenzy. But this time I will follow through to the end, and really put things away at the end of every day, as she recommends once the big de-clutter is over.

The month of January for me is typically one of reflection and consideration of where my life is and where I want it to go. I know a lot of people use December for that, but really I find it too stressful between holiday hoopla and social obligations. There is no hurry to begin something new for me. When I commit, I like to go all the way. So I allow myself a few weeks to plan and dream while I get my daily routines back into place, and get my head back into work.

I have a new planner with monthly and weekly pages instead of a daily list. I am experimenting with that, making my daily rituals more routinized and still working with a to-do list but working to schedule that time in my electronic calendar instead of keeping the endless list. We will see how that goes. Really I am trying to take away, not add to all the obligations I create for myself.

What are your favorite daily routines, that keep you grounded and sane? I love hearing about what works well for others.